Observer Comment: There could have been more than one tragedy that afternoon

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A CATALOGUE of shortcomings by staff at Woodlands resulted in the death of a very vulnerable woman, Susanna Anley.

These failings were exposed in full at the inquest this week, nearly 4 years after her death in April 2008, and the chain of events makes for sobering reading.

It is clear that fundamental changes in the practices and training of staff have since been made by the NHS trust responsible, however this can be of limited comfort to Mrs Anley’s family.

Because staff knew Mrs Anley well as she had been admitted on previous occasions, arguably they did not take seriously enough the risk she posed to herself.

On the afternoon that she took her life, she had been unobserved by staff for over 2 hours, seemingly for little other reason than nursing staff forgot.

One nurse had taken patients off site “rambling”, another had been distracted by an incident with another patient. Neither had alerted colleagues to their unavailability.

Somehow Mrs Anley had come by a bin liner, which was the means she used to suffocate herself.

Furthermore, she was still wearing a belt when she was found dead, an item that should have been removed as a matter of course from a suicidal patient.

Considering Mrs Anley was not by any means the only vulnerable patient in the unit at that time, there could have been more than one tragedy that afternoon.

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THE residents of Wishing Tree and Gillsmans Hill will be breathing a sigh of relief this week after the Spur Road appears to have finally reached a dead end.

For the last 17 years they have been living in fear of extra traffic being directed onto their streets. Hollington Park Road is already a well established commuter rat-run.

The whole process of assessment and planning has taken a generation to sort out.

And although the scheme was cancelled in February 1995 the possibility of the Hastings to Bexhill Link Road remains a possibility.

By April a decision should finally be known about this potential white elephant which has already cost tax payers millions of pounds.

But what about those neglected county council properties festering along the route corridor.

It will be interesting to see if it takes another 17 years to do something about them as they continue to swallow up tax payers funds for repair and maintenance work.

Expect a flurry of political activity - surely there must be an election around the corner?